An estimated 10,000 miles of historic footpaths – the equivalent of the distance from London to Sydney – are thought to be missing from the map in England and Wales.

These historic paths are a vital part of our heritage, describing how people have travelled over the centuries, yet if they are not claimed by 2026, we risk losing them forever.

Through their Don’t Lose Your Way campaign, walking charity the Ramblers is today [Tuesday 11th February] launching a mass citizen geography project in a bid to find all these missing rights of way before it’s too late. They are calling on walkers, historians and map enthusiasts in Wales to join the search, using their new online mapping site, and help locate all the missing paths in the region.

There are just six years until the Government cut-off date of 2026, when it will no longer be possible to add paths to the definitive map based on historic evidence, meaning our right to access them will not be protected for the future.

The mapping project will give the Ramblers a true picture of the number of paths missing from the map, enabling them to prioritise those which should be researched and applied for ahead of the deadline.

Jack Cornish, Ramblers Don’t Lose Your Way programme manager, said: “Our paths are one of our most precious assets. They connect us to our landscapes – ensuring we can explore our towns and cities on foot and enjoy walking in the countryside – and to our history and the people who formed them over the centuries. If we lose our paths, a little bit of our past goes with them. This is our only opportunity to save thousands of miles of rights of way and time is running out.

“Joining our group of citizen geographers is a really easy way to help map lost ways in your area, and by doing so you’ll become part of the movement that puts these paths back on the map for generations to come.”

While some of the missing paths are still in use, others have become overgrown and unusable, but what they all have in common is that they did not make it onto the official definitive maps that councils were required to draw up in the 1950s1. Many of these lost rights of way could make useful additions to the existing network, creating new circular walking routes or connecting people more easily to local green spaces, nature and the countryside.

Archaeologist and TV presenter Mary-Ann Ochota is supporting the campaign. She explained: “I feel healthier and happier when I’ve walked, it’s the perfect tonic for busy, modern life. But to do it I rely on paths. Many of those paths are routes with deep histories, telling the stories of how our ancestors travelled about the land – to market, to church, across their farms, or even pilgrims making the journey of a lifetime. The Ramblers Don’t Lose Your Way campaign to save those paths missing from the map is really important and we all need to get involved.”

The new Ramblers Don’t Lose Your Way online mapping site, developed thanks to the support of Ramblers Holidays Charitable Trust, divides the map into 150,000 one-kilometre squares and makes it easy to compare historic and current maps side-by-side. Users simply select a square, do a quick ‘spot the difference’, mark on any missing paths and click submit. It takes just a few minutes to check a square.

Finding and mapping the paths is only the first step. Once all the lost rights of way are mapped, the Ramblers will be recruiting people to join a team of dedicated volunteers, researching historic evidence and submitting applications to local authorities ahead of the 2026 deadline, to get them restored to the map. While the Welsh government has agreed in principle that the deadline should be removed, but until the law is changed, urgent work to claim these lost paths needs to continue.

The Ramblers is also calling on the UK Government to extend the deadline for registering historic paths by at least five years.

Don’t Lose Your Way is also supported by players of People’s Postcode Lottery, who raise money for the Ramblers and other good causes.

To get started with your search for lost rights of way, visit and register on the mapping site.

Download the Ramblers Don’t Lose Your Way guide to find out more about how you can get involved.